Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabian GP promoter appoints Tilke to design “exciting” Jeddah street circuit

2021 F1 season

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The promoters of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix have appointed long-time F1 track architect Hermann Tilke to design the track which will hold their race next year.

A street circuit in Jeddah will hold a night race as the penultimate round on the 2021 F1 calendar.

The race will take place in November. Prince Khalid Bin Sultan Al Faisal, the president of Saudi Arabia’s motorsport federation, said they had chosen Tilke because of the limited time available to complete the circuit.

“Given the time that we have, we found out that the best option for us is to go directly with Tilke,” he said. “We need to work very fast and it’s something a street circuit, it’s not like a new project starting from scratch so we wanted to bring someone that has experience both in the street circuit races.”

The track layout is “80% set”, said the prince. “We’re working closely with Formula 1, with Ross Brawn and his team and Tilke.”

The circuit will be based around the corniche on the seafront of Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest city. “We don’t want it to be just another race,” he said. “We wanted to do something special, we want it to be a different race, we want it to be the best race. So working closely with Formula 1 and Tilke and having our beautiful corniche in Jeddah I can promise you it’s going to stand out.”

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A key goal in the track design will be to create opportunities for overtaking, he added.

“Our goal is to make it an exciting and thrilling race. We don’t want it to be one of those boring races where there is no overtaking. We host the Formula 1 because we want to bring the excitement.

“We’re doing our best to make it an exciting. It’s not only about the scenery or the environment or the sporting events that we’re planning to do. For us racing needs to be exciting, needs to be fast.

“At the same time it’s a street race so you’re not building a track from scratch, we are limited to the things that we can do. But if you see the corniche in Jeddah you’re going to have an idea [of the layout].

“I can tell you it’s not going to be a slow race. Our goal is to make it exciting, thrilling with a lot of overtaking. We like seeing the event in Monaco, it’s a lovely event, but in terms of racing, there’s no overtaking, it’s not that exciting.

“So for us, we want to create a street race where it looks nice, the event, the environment is nice, but at the same time it’s a thrilling race. So this is a task that we’re working closely with Tilke and Formula 1, and hopefully we will achieve this goal.”

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62 comments on “Saudi Arabian GP promoter appoints Tilke to design “exciting” Jeddah street circuit”

  1. Rilke has done good tracks before, here’s hoping it’s better than Sochi.

  2. “Tilke” and “exciting” is an oxymoron!
    Let’s all cross our fingers and toes and hope for the best.

    1. I think most people are really unfair on Tilke. Sepang, Istanbul, Buddh and Bahrain are all decent. He had a hand in COTA as well which is a great racetrack.
      The issues come when you consider the brief and the restraints he has to work under and I doubt many could do much better. I mean ‘here’s a flat piece of land around a port or an Olympic park: turn it into a racetrack. And by the way you can’t go here or there because of roads and buildings and you need good run off and access for emergencies and Marshall’s and flatbed trucks and it has to be 5km long and these cars can’t follow in corners so can you have a 1.2km straight. Oh and you need pits and a paddock. Good luck!’ There’s probably a tonne of stuff I’ve not even though about but it’s not simple. Most of the tracks designed with less constraints have been alright. Not saying Jeddah will be good but Baku has done OK across the last few years so here’s hoping.

      1. I have never seen somebody give so many excuses in my life.

        Tilke knows three and a half design elements at best for a track and that’s it, circle radius turns and its mutated Istanbul Turn 8, s bend/chicane, hairpin after long straight. He’s never done anything outside of that and I doubt he ever will considering he keeps getting jobs somehow, he just chases the high of Istanbul Turn 8. FIA regulations are a complete joke [as per usual] in regards to tracks, under current regs Spa shouldn’t be legal.

        We NEED more tracks like Zandvoort, it has everything but a wide road for overtaking. Banking, elevation, exciting and challenging driving, punishing runoffs, the works. That’s the track of the future

        1. So, I came upon this article (it’s nearly 5 months later) and read your comment @jethrojanison, it is almost spot on – I literally snorted!

          Has anyone looked at the ‘First Version’ on Wiki?

          As for all the other comments, most made me laugh and many have made me really think!

          I have been an F1 fan since I was very young, my dad was a Marshal at Kyalami, I love most motorsports! I absolutely agree that we need to take a stand against races being held in countries due to their inhumane human rights, however I ask this, sincerely and genuinely, is there such a country? Yes, Saudi Arabia and infact most Gulf countries are abhorrent in their practises, but we still have severe prejudice throughout the entire world. I too am tired of the “we race as one” crap, as it’s only focusing on one thing, and person (err… I mean sir *rolls eyes* – just my opinion).

          BUT… here’s the thing, we are talking about it! Races are being held in these countries be it by political/financial influence or not, but they have no opened themselves up to scrutiny by the rest of the world. Will they care, or change? I certainly hope so, although the little cynic in me says they don’t give a damn.

          I just want to watch beautiful works of art, go really fast, overtake each other, sometimes bump into each other, possibly a crash or two – but NO ONE must get hurt! Is that too much to ask?

          Reply moderated
  3. Does this dude pay the fia to make him have a monopoly on track design? This sports needs new track designers desperately

    1. The promoters of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix have appointed long-time F1 track architect Hermann Tilke to design the track

      That has nothing to do with the FIA nor the F1 management. It’s the promoters in this case.

    2. Some sort of corruption it definitely is. There are so many architects and designers in this world, yet in the world of F1 there is only one. This is probably some invisible clause when signing a new race agreement. The best thing I’ve read about his work here so far is that he’s “got some good tracks too”. Wonderful.

    3. How many architecture firms have experirence designijg FIA grade 1 tracks?

      1. Populous do, for starters.

    4. Tilke does not have a real monopoly. But since he was more or less the to go partner Bernie put in front of wannabe promotors, he did develop a company that has everything in house and can react fast and with a lot of experience to do everything a project needs @carlosmedrano.

      As @tifoso1989 mentions, this is the choice of the promotor to take a partner they know has everyting available to make this work in a short time, including a heap of experience in nearby countries like UAE and Bahrain. So while they could pick someone else, it might be a risk to do so. And why would they take that risk?

      1. @bascb

        Using Tilke also pretty much guarantees that the track gets an F1 license. Any other designer is a risk.

        1. For a new track to be approved by the FIA and receive a grade 1 license it’ll always have the same faults so many Tilke tracks have. A lot of “features” that are characteristic of a Tilke track are due to the FIA’s regulations and requirements for a new grade 1 circuit. Experienced load by the driver, corner radius, run-offs, little elevation changes, etc. most of these things are dictated by the FIA.

  4. Stop giving this dude all the tracks

  5. Why Tilke? His tracks are universally disliked by fans and drivers, yet every new state funded GP is on a Tilke designed track. All of the plaudits this years about the old school circuits seem to have been forgotten.
    Haven’t we suffered enough?

    1. I actually enjoy Sepang, Istanbul Park and Baku. Bahrain and Shanghai are not too bad. While Abu Dhabi and Sochi are really awful tracks..

      1. You are officially not allowed to use that username after what you just said.

        Shame on you.

        Shame.

    2. Don’t think that’s true, at Sepang and Istanbul for example he’s done good work.
      I am also pretty sure that sketchs of the Abu Dhabi layout existed before we was nominated to build that thing. Same goes with Sochi, when the priority was to place the buildings and the track had to be build in the remaining space.
      He still has influence on the design of the corners though e.g. camber or radius and that’s where I have to point to Mexico and have to admit that he butchered it.

      1. I think there were safety reasons for Mexico though. Run off being the main one at the peraltada. I’d imagine there was also pressure to have the stadium put in. It’s not as simple as him having free reign anywhere: as with everything in F1 there’ll be politics.
        (Is it a coincidence that the adverts in seeing are for little tikes nappies?)

        1. From memory, the apex and exit of the original ‘peraltada’ has a road and buildings behind it so bringing it up to modern standards was never an option. Bottas even managed to make the abbreviated version look dangerous.

  6. Tilke is your best choice what you want an “exciting” track. What about trying to design an exciting track instead?

  7. A key goal in the track design will be to create opportunities for overtaking, he added.

    You know what they say … better to aim high and miss.

  8. I read the article. I then read the human rights section on the SaudiArabia wiki page, just to refresh my mind. Hope for all of this to be boycotted heavily from all involved parties

    1. Tilke is obviously going to the right parties to get yet another gig… Pressing the flesh, taking the blood money…

  9. Peter Windsor (always interesting insights on his YouTube channel) said something about Tilke’s track designs catering for TV coverage and, specifically, good and reasonably long shots of track-side advertising during the Ecclestone era. So tight, winding, up and down circuits with blocked views where the cars flash by the cameras were disfavoured. Sounds very plausible. Is it true? And if so, is this still necessary? With onboard cameras and other ways of projecting advertising, surely circuits can be more adventurous? Obviously safety and access is a factor too.

    I’d add please, not another shopping mall car park circuit, but I won’t be watching the Saudi GP ever. Unless they switch to a functional democracy with some reasonable attempts to implement human rights some time soon. Not likely.

    1. so will you also not watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix or the Chinese Grand Prix next year? they’re not democracies either…

      1. @nickthegreek
        With all the malfunctions in those dictatorships you’ve mentioned, none of them is close to the barbarism level of Saudi Arabia regime.

        1. The Chinese have prison camps filled to the brim with hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Christians, and other foreign citizens…

          1. Don’t think anyone is denying that. China is a very oppressive regime, and if it wasn’t for the money, F1 and most other events wouldn’t be there.

            Not sure if you are saying that F1 shouldn’t go to China due their human rights (fully agree). Or that since we do race in China then for some reason Saudi Arabia should get a free pass as well.

            Just because the you see a looter grabbing a handful of jewels then it’s ok for you to do the same ??

      2. Nothing to do with democracy. Not all democratic countries are good and the others bad. But you can draw a line, and Saudi Arabia is well beyond it.

        Also despite the lack of recent news from the country, not much has changed in Bahrain, another jewel in the Formula 1 crown. “We Race As One”, yeah right.

      3. There’s a billion races next year. It’s not feasible to watch them all. So, yeah, I’ll skip some.

      4. I don’t watch China, Russia, or Abu Dhabi because of how minorities are treated in these countries. I probably should also not be watching Bahrain, Turkey, or Azerbaijan but I do. I actually stopped watching F1 altogether for years when they went to Bahrain but I am back with mixed feelings.
        I don’t t see any reason why F1 wants to be involved with countries that treat their people so poorly. Or why F1 – a largely British sport – would race in Russia while Putin is poisoning people in the UK. Have some principles beyond profits. Until then I don’t want to hear this “we race as one” stuff.

        1. Quite some high horse to call F1 a largely British sport” and attempt to take a stance on other countries’ human rights issues while ignoring that the UK has been investigated by the UN and found in breach for the massive cruelties of our benefits system, amongst other very horrible things.

      5. @nickthegreek I don’t know Nick, there’s something about a regime chopping a dissident journalist into small pieces that I find especially creepy. I think Formula 1 holding a GP there is an abomination. I kind of wonder what will happen if and when this starts to get serious press coverage next year with protests and condemnations of Formula 1 and its drivers for going. It happened (fortunately) with South Africa. Maybe some people, drivers included, will suddenly find their conscience? Like they didn’t know now what happens in the country. The situation (and hypocrisy) sickens me profoundly. I’m not even sure I’ll continue to follow the sport after this year.

  10. Great, can’t wait for turn 1, the stoning circle, then turn 2, the crucifixion, and of course the hairpin, turn 3, the beheading of the infidel.

    We can also look forward to paddock features, like virtually dismember a journalist, or the 911 experience, oops forgot they only funded and organised that.

    Why am I bothering, this comment will be “moderated”, just like everything else concerning this bunch of murderous fascists.

    1. I never encountered moderation on this site, what are you talking about @tambeau?

      1. Well @alfa145 my comment on another post concerning the W series has mysteriously disappeared.

        No swear words, no threats, just critical of Saudi Arabia. It sat for ages “awaiting moderation”, presumably for a human to review it, then it was gone.

        I’ve read the guidelines etc and can’t see how I breached any of them, and nobody bothers to tell you, either that it’s been removed or what rule you broke.

        1. Your most recent comment that failed to pass muster went well beyond criticism of Saudi Arabia into potentially offending all muslims.

          1. I’d argue that the original comment on this threat he posted is far beyond civility

    2. Comments are put into moderation based on some specific words in the body content – like any website, obviously stuff like swearing goes in, equally things with violent phrasing because you’d reasonably assume there was a risk that was someone threatening someone else – which is a normal moderation standard.

      It isn’t based on criticism of specific things – it’s not that intuitive, prior to getting reviewed by an actual human.

    3. I like your comment! Hope it stays up.

    4. I hope the W series doesn’t plan to go here. All the drivers would be arrested for being female.

      1. This would seem wildly implausible given two of them have raced there already.

  11. really hoping that they pull a vietnam, rio or port royal and cancel/postpone indefinitely next years race somehow

    1. Vietnam was pulled because of a corrupt politician, can’t have such behaviour tainting F1’s reputation.

      We only want wholesome murders, large scale oppression and funding of terrorism. You know, good old family values.

  12. Tilke, Exciting, Special.. No man, you got the wrong address.

  13. Oh boy here we go again…
    But maybe they will get it right this time.
    If that’s not the case , then see you later Tilke. The point has been proven by fans

  14. Ignoring the human rights objections for a moment, which seems to be a Liberty Media special skill (even their name makes it seem a joke), this proposed Saudi Arabian race looks to be another snore fest.

    Bland, flat, “perfect weather”, 90 degree corners, and all the other things racing fans hate. But at least it will have spectacular views of some fancily lit up buildings and lots of celebs clambering to get a photo taken.

    The best thing is to vote with your feet (or virtually with your screen) and stop attending / watching boring races, on boring circuits, with boring people on the grid plugging their new movies etc.

    1. Ah yes, the Tilkedrome special piled up in three sentences

  15. oh well as long as the PR firm say it is then cool

  16. Well, Tilke… Track… Ah.

    Granted he makes excellent tracks, good runoff, flowing, etc. Stuning to look at, but somewhat hmmm artificial.

    It is as if someone did a workgroup, decided that two apex 67° corners are the best fun, then littering the track with those + 2 long straights.

    This is not how Imola was made, or Spa, or Monza, or any really good track.

    Especially if said track is in middle east smack in some super flat city, in the desert.

    They should find some old caravan tracks, around some oasis, flowing amongst sand dunes, something remotely natural.

  17. Oh good. Tilke.

  18. Typical prerace PR words, in my opinion. While track layout has an effect on the racing, the cars are much much more important. As an example, the horrible Valencia track produced a classic in 2012. Hungaroring has been usually horrible for overtaking, but it does produce some interesting races. Same goes for Spa: quite often good, but with the modern cars, it does not guarantee a good race.

    Also, most obviously, more overtaking does not equal good or exciting race.

  19. Hermann. He’s the hero F1 deserves, but not the one it needs right now.

  20. Funny how the name Tilke gets people’s knees jerking with half of them not even knowing why, other than they’re supposed to..

    Some Tilke tracks are bad, some good. Just like any other tracks.

    1. And all Tilke tracks use the same 3 [and any post Istanbul, 3.5] elements

  21. Is it usual for a Grand Prix to be scheduled when there isn’t even a track design yet?

  22. And executions on Fridays? Part of the show.

  23. Some Tilke circuits are not bad but others awful. I can understand why they have gone for him though, considering time is limited.

    It does not matter so much though as I will be boycotting this race i.e. not watching. Those who object to it need to make their protest by not watching it on any tv channel or platform.

  24. I hope Jeddah Street Circuit will suffer like what Valencia Street Circuit did.

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